YWLC: Hear from Pioneers and Change-Makers


By Ashley Emery

When you speak up, you expose your voice.

When you speak out, you raise up others with your voice.

At last year’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference, JWI asked: “As young women, how do we ready ourselves to be the voices of the future and a voice for our community?

Last year’s conference was a confluence of voices—experienced, emboldened, eager—all reconciling the challenges we face as women with the opportunities. It was a nexus for female leaders who refuse to be spoken for, spoken over, or spoken down to, and who insist on speaking their truth.

More than a hundred powerful young women gathered in Washington, D.C., last December to learn and be a part of this conversation. 2016 Women to Watch honorees—pioneers and change-makers in philanthropy, business, spirituality, and policy—shared their experiences navigating their respective spheres. Panels, workshops, and networking sessions enabled us to connect with these impressive Jewish leaders and distill best practices from conference dialogue.


Speakers discussed how the advancement of women is contingent upon us innovating in spaces that were not designed for us, and the imperative of initiative. That call to action and assiduous creativity charged my passion for advocacy and JWI’s work. Moreover, it was R-E-S-P-E-C-T, a workshop at the conference with Meryl Frank, Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and Roberta Levy Liss, Regional Managing Principal at Cushman & Wakefield, that really inspired my connection to JWI’s community.

For me, the impact of the conference’s leadership training and mentorship crystallized in that workshop. The speakers invalidated the expectations of "effortless perfectionism" and unpacked how its darker undertow fuels unattainable standards for women. I remember a ripple of nods swept the workshop group—all from women working hard to make a difference but compelled to perform without visible effort or flaw. I immediately felt united with a community for whom this expectation was anathema; we supported each other's hustle and work. Those nods showed me the essence of JWI—empowerment, tikkun olam, and friendship—and I knew that I needed to become more involved.

Since attending the conference last year, I have become an active Network member, and I am now honored to serve on the D.C. Network Board. As part of this year’s Young Women's Leadership Conference Committee, I am so excited to energize a new generation of leaders, and to continue learning from women who speak their minds, and from their hearts.

Join Ashley at the Young Women's Leadership Conference by registering here